a game console | DIY – do it yourself | educational | fun | 8-bit
portable | cool | open-source | Arduino powered | customizable
Make your own game console
Use tools and follow the provided online tutorials
Learn STEM while programming
And have fun along the way
Expand MAKERbuino’s capabilities
Join a vast maker community
And share your unique creations with the world
This neat little device is an open source handheld game device that you can build yourself (it’s fully DIY). Besides that, MAKERbuino is also an educational device shaped like a game console.
It comes in a kit form (or you can buy it preassembled) – you get a box with all the electronic components necessary for building your own portable game machine.
To build your own MAKERbuino the only things you’ll need are some basic tools and an interest in technology.
This device is based on easy-to-find components and programmed in Arduino – one of the most popular DIY microcontroller platforms. It’s open-source, hackable and easily customizable with additional hardware components and custom casings.
MAKERbuino is educational
MAKERbuino is an educational device disguised in the shape of a game console. Its purpose: to motivate people to explore, learn and create something new in a fun and interesting way.
MAKERbuino is cheap
MAKERbuino’s price equals the price of an average newly released game console video game. The idea is: instead of buying yourself, your kid, a nephew, a sibling or a friend a video game, you can buy yourself/him/her a MAKERbuino for the same price and motivate yourself/him/her to learn something new and enter the wonderful world of DIY electronics.
MAKERbuino is cool
Forget the newest iPhone or the latest PlayStation, you will be the main hipster around after you show this one to your friends – a game console you’ve built and customized yourself!
OK, it has a low-res screen and 2kB of RAM but you’ve made it with your own two hands, it’s unique, it’s retro, it’s cool.
MAKERbuino is fun
Electronics is easy… really! We’re in the 21st century… teenagers build their own game consoles at home using online tutorials and cheap components from China. Try building your own game console, you’ll see how much fun it is.
MAKERbuino needs tools
You’ll need some basic tools and equipment for assembling your MAKERbuino:
- regular soldering iron (nothing super expensive is required) and some solder
- diagonal cutter pliers
- regular screwdriver
- some solder
- a piece of insulating tape or some super-glue
If you’re a maker, you probably already have these tools.
If you’re a maker-to-be and still don’t have these tools, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve prepared a special version of the MAKERbuino kit that comes with required tools included. Check out the shop for more info about the available kit versions.
MAKERbuino ♥ Arduino
YES, we love Arduino.
MAKERbuino is based on ATmgea328p-pu – the same chip used on Arduino UNO board.
Therefore, it’s programmed in Arduino IDE (based on C/C++) – the most popular programming environment for makers.
MAKERbuino is compatible with numerous Arduino related examples of manipulating various hardware and software components. In fact, it’s compatible with all Arduino UNO software libraries available online and will work with many Arduino shields and modules with minimal or no library code modifications.
MAKERbuino ♥ Gamebuino
Gamebuino is a device similar to MAKERbuino, only a bit smaller. The biggest difference: it comes already assembled and is made out of tiny components that were pre-soldered by robots. It’s an alternative for the ones that are afraid of getting their fingers burnt with a soldering iron.
Gamebuino was crowdfunded on Indiegogo back in 2014. It’s a project made by Aurelien Rodot and it served as a great inspiration for the creation of MAKERbuino.
In 2016 we connected with Aurelien (on a Maker Faire, of course) and he helped us make MAKERbuino happen.
The best thing, MAKERbuino is 100% compatible with Gamebuino’s vast collection of open-source games and its programming library.
MAKERbuino plays games!
The MAKERbuino kit comes with an SD card loaded with numerous fun retro games which you can play as soon as you assemble your MAKERbuino. More games can be downloaded from an online MAKERbuino games gallery.
Every game in the games gallery is open-source and available with a downloadable Arduino source code along with a compiled .HEX file.
In other words, you can take a look at the code of every MAKERbuino compatible game, learn something new, change the code and implement parts of the game code in your own game project.
You can make your own games using our Arduino library and share them with other makers on the MAKERbuino games gallery. Our programming toolkit along with our Arduino library was made especially for programming video games using Arduino IDE.
It makes easy to:
- develop in-game menus and other GUI-related content
- play and develop sound FX and background music
- draw, display, and animate bitmaps
- emulate MAKERbuino games on your PC
MAKERbuino does multiplayer
Playing games on a game console you’ve made is fun. But you know what’s even more fun: having a multiplayer gaming party on retro DIY game consoles.
You heard it, MAKERbuino game consoles can connect with link cables, exchange data, and play multiplayer games.
The consoles communicate using i2c communication – a type of communication protocol used to interface microcontrollers with sensors and other microcontrollers.
Since i2c is serial, you can chain more than 2 MAKERbuino consoles together using link cables. Theoretically, you can connect up to 128 MAKERbuinos together and make a massive multiplayer match.
MAKERbuino has a build guide
We’ve designed the build guide with the purpose of teaching you something new, not only showing you how to assemble things. Every now and then, the build guide gives you some useful and educational info about the things you are doing (e.g: “Now you have to find a 10k resistor and place it on the spot marked R2. This is what the resistors look like…. Resistors are used for…. This is how you read a resistor….).
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, we’ve collected as much feedback as possible from over 1500 users and completely redesigned the build guide which we’ve now split into 6 chapters where we’re guiding you through every step of assembly with more than 120 high-quality photos and teaching you about the basics of electronics along the way.
Who is this kit for?
Based on our experience, an 11-year-old kid should be able to assemble a MAKERbuino kit with a tiny bit of help from an adult. Therefore, the estimated age group is 11+.
Estimated build time: 5 hours. Build time varies and depends on the skills of the person and if the person has ever soldered before.
The build time will be significantly less if you’re a skilled maker.
Building the MAKERbuino kit is just the beginning. After that, you’ll spend numerous hours creating your own games and experimenting with hardware.
This kit was designed to be assembled as easy as possible. However, if you have never soldered before, it might be a good idea to get some practice first.
Nevertheless, with enough patience and care, a total newbie can assemble this kit by precisely following these build instructions.
What you’ll learn with MAKERbuino
- how to solder properly
- what are the basic electronic components and what are their functions
- how can electronic components be connected and why
- what are microcontrollers and some basics of digital electronics
- how to program a microcontroller in C/C++
- how a basic game console works and what are the basics of game development
- how to extend beyond MAKERbuino’s capabilities by adding various expansion modules
MAKERbuino has wicked specs!
Let’s get down to MAKERbuino’s details.
ATmega328 @ 16MHz (same MCU used in Arduino UNO)
Nokia 5110 84×48 monochrome graphic LCD /w white backlight (adjustable with a built in potentiometer)
0.5W speaker with 4-channel audio generation, 3.5mm headphone connector, hardware volume control
7 super-clicky pushbuttons with replaceable button caps (D-pad + ABC buttons)
32kB of FLASH program memory, 2kB of RAM, up to 2GB SD card for loading and saving programs (HEX files) and data (128MB card included)
serial UART port, i2c, SPI
single cell LiPo, 3.7V, 600mAh, charged with your regular micro USB smartphone charger
approx. 13cm x 6cm x 2.5cm (depending on the casing, hacks, mods, expansions…)
MAKERbuino has a special bootloader that allows you to store and load programs from an SD card.
Unlike a regular Arduino UNO board, MAKERbuino can have multiple games and programs saved on the SD card in the form of .HEX files, which can then be selected and loaded in MAKERbuino’s FLASH memory.
Since MAKERbuino’s .HEX files are pretty small compared to an SD card’s size, you can literally store hundreds of games and/or programs on your MAKERbuino.
Every MAKERbuino kit comes with an SD card preloaded with numerous fun games and programs so that you can try your game console out as soon as you assemble it.
MAKERbuino is hackable
See all that pin headers on the MAKERbuino board? They’re used for connecting hardware add-ons. MAKERbuino is based on Arduino UNO. Therefore, it’s compatible with lots of hardware expansion modules. You can easily plug in some LEDs , switches and photoresistors or some more complicated modules like accelerometers, gyroscopes or RF transceivers…
MAKERbuino was meant to be hacked. Our goal is to encourage people to become creative makers and explorers of the wonderful world of DIY electronics. MAKERbuino allows you to develop your hardware and software skills. Make video games, explore new hardware solutions, learn from numerous tutorials and share your work with the community. Change the button caps, code a Pokemon-like video game, connect a GPS module, turn your MAKERbuino into a robot car…get creative.
MAKERbuino is customizable
MAKERbuino is fully customizable. Make your game console unique. Change the button caps, craft or 3D print a custom casing, add some expansion modules and make your MAKERbuino light up with a few blinking LEDs… We can’t wait to see what your MAKERbuino will look like.
MAKERbuino ♥ Open-source
MAKERbuino’s software is fully open-source and available for you to download.
MAKERbuino’s hardware’s schematics along with the bill of materials are also open-source and available online.
That means that you can use our documentation to build your own MAKERbuino clones on a breadboard, experiment with our hardware design using the provided documentation and schematics and create your own MAKERbuino compatible boards and modules.
MAKERbuino kit with tools
Don’t have the tools? We’ve got you covered.
Besides the basic electronic components, this kit has all the necessary tools:
- a basic soldering iron with a tip for precision soldering
- mini soldering iron holder (you don’t want to burn your mama’s table, do you?)
- a sponge for cleaning your iron
- standard screwdriver
- diagonal cutter pliers for cutting excess leads
- needle nose plier for holding the components while soldering and putting them in place
Fun fact: this soldering iron is light, small and portable and can be plugged in a USB power bank so that you can solder on the go… #makersgonnamake
MAKERbuino inventor’s kit
This kit is for more advance users. It comes with a set of MAKERbuino compatible hardware components, some wires and a breadboard.
You’ll get an i2c GPIO expander and some neat input and output devices so that you can expand MAKERbuino’s hardware capabilities.
Building MAKERbuino is a great experience and we highly recommend you to try it out. Maybe you’ll get addicted to DIY electronics, who knows.
Despite that, we understand that not everybody loves soldering and would like a MAKERbuino just to program games for it…. we respect that.
We’ll send you a fully functional assembled MAKERbuino so that you can get down to programming right away.
You want to organize a group MAKERbuino making party or a workshop, great!
We’ll help you out by providing our educational material, workshop plans, worksheets and the experience we’ve gained with organizing MAKERbuino workshops.
MAKERbuino was on Kickstarter!
Thanks to 1,574 awesome backers, MAKERbuino was successfully funded on Kickstarter in April 2017!
In the campaign, over USD100k was raised and over 1800 MAKERbuinos were sold.
MAKERbuino has a team!
Every MAKERbuino kit is packed by hand in Croatia – a tiny country located in Central and Southeast Europe.
Croatia is popular for its seaside and Game of Thrones being filmed in it (google it), but it also has some pretty smart entrepreneurs living in it (and they help us make MAKERbuino happen).